Monday, September 17, 2018

Showers of Inspiration

    
It's happened to me more times than I can count. I get up early, brew some coffee and settle down at my desk in my teensy writing office, ready to tackle the next scene in my story.
     I write. I delete. I write again.  I delete. I stare goggle-eyed at the annoying cursor flashing reproachfully on my screen.
     I mentally tot up how far behind I'm getting and how soon my kids are going to be up, signaling the official end of my writing time. I seriously consider scratching the whole idea of writing books. Maybe I'll take up knitting instead. Knitting is cozy, and you can do it while you watch television.
     I remember the last time I tried to knit.
     Okay. So maybe not knitting.
     I refocus on the computer screen. I don't like my characters anymore, especially that heroine who's stubbornly refusing to cooperate with me. In my beautiful, breezy outline, she came across as delightfully spunky. Now she's like that renegade wheel on the grocery cart I always end up with--the one that makes me veer off track and crash into pyramids of canned green beans.
     I want to clonk her on the head.
     I decide this book is a total wash. No matter that I'm on page one hundred and eleven. It's garbage. I'm just going to have to start over; that's all there is to it.
     I give up and go to take a shower.
     And then--when I am physically as far away from my computer as I can get and still be inside the house, when I have no pen, no paper, nothing except shampoo and soap--it comes to me.
     I know exactly how to write that scene.
     I wish I had a nickel for every time I have hopped dripping out of a half-completed shower in desperate search of a pencil to jot down the dialogue my spunky heroine can utter that will turn the scene from a disaster into exactly the plot device I need to move the story forward.
     Apparently, I'm not alone in this. Agatha Christie, who as a murder mystery writer did have the enviable advantage of being able to kill off annoying characters, once remarked, "The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."
     What about you? Is there a non-writing activity that tends to get your creative juices flowing when you're blocked? Since I'm in the middle of a particularly balky book right now, I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below--or connect with me on my blog, via email or on Facebook.
And don't forget to check out my newest release A Baby for the Minister, available now! 

20 comments:

  1. Laurel, I've been there so many times. I love how God gives us the answer to our problems at the most unusual of times, whether it be the shower or at the grocery store, or taking a walk.

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    1. Yes--and so often when we stop focusing on the problem--that's when the answer comes!

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  2. Everything in life needs inspiration. Whether it's love or any other thing.

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  3. I write reviews, not books, but YES! In the shower I get this wonderful sentence to describe how good the story is or maybe gently say what I found troubling with the work! Then by the time I’m dressed again......it all is wandering around in my horrible memory!
    Thanks for the insight.

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    1. Oh, Paula--I know--that awful feeling when you can't remember the PERFECT sentence you came up with when no pencil is handy! I often am mumbling to myself when I hop out in search of something to write with--so I don't forget! The struggle is real! :)

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  4. Ohhhh I'm there right now. And I find sorting through piles of old mail or reorganizing a space helps me to refocus. Or sometimes when I'm grocery shopping the ideas seem to come together.

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    1. Exactly, Tracey--I have just started keeping a list of "filler" tasks next to my computer--things that need doing so I can stay productive while waiting for the answer to a thorny writing problem. Sorting mail is one of them--as is tidying up my messy writing area! Those two things are ongoing battles in my house!!

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  5. Excellent post! And one I can well relate to. I tend to go outside and yank up a few weeds when my heroine refuses to play along with me. It's therapeutic to create order in the world around me if I can't create order in the world inside my head ;)

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    1. That's a great idea--and I've got plenty of weeds to pull around here, too! Somehow working with our hands instead of our brains for a few minutes seems to do the trick, doesn't it?
      And I think you're spot on about the whole "order" thing. Maybe that's why straightening up or ticking items off my filler to-do list feels so empowering!!

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  6. I so agree with you Laurel! You nailed it about this elusive, spoiled, unpredictable inspiration thing. You give her all the conveniences of a dedicated writing space, but it pops into your head when you least expected, and - worst of all - have no means to write it down. But still, we love it when it pops. Let it appear anywhere, we'll welcome it. I carry a notebook with me and have one on my nightstand. The key here I think is to keep that scene in mind and go over it wherever we are - in a ckeck-out line, waiting in the doctor's office, sitting in traffic. Fresh places bring fresh inspiration. Especially shower. Doesn't get fresher than that!

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    1. LOL, so true--I always have a notebook in my purse, Alla--and I love the adjective "spoiled"! Inspiration does seem pretty capricious sometimes!

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  7. I’m right there with you, Laurel. I usually get my best inspiration while driving. So if you see some crazy person pull to the side if the road to jot down some notes, it’s me! Lol. J/k I use the recorder on my phone. Great post!

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  8. Driving! I forgot about driving. Virginia--the same thing happens to me. I usually have my twelve year old daughter riding shotgun, and she's so used to jotting down notes for me that she doesn't even ask questions any more--she just scribbles down whatever crazy thing I say with no comment. :)

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  9. I'm right with you! I can't seem to get into the writing sometimes unless I'm away from the computer. Often I get ideas when I'm driving to or from work, which can be 15 mins there and up to 45 mins coming home.

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  10. Wow--Christa--that sounds like some serious traffic on your home commute! But at least you have plenty of time to come up with story ideas!

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  11. Great post, Laurel! Inspiration is such a funny thing. The worst for me is when I have a brilliant idea just as I'm drifting off to sleep...and then I can't remember it when I wake up in the morning. Blessings!

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    1. Yes!! I know better than to drift off without getting up to jot it down because I NEVER remember it in the morning--no matter how sure I am that I will! And yet--that's all too often what I do, and then I spend half the next day frustrated trying to jog my memory.

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